In the constantly evolving world of content marketing, it’s not surprising that a few commonly held principles have changed. It’s not always easy to stay on top of headline-grabbing trends or know which ones are just passing fads.
To keep you in the know, we worked with two content marketers to highlight five of the biggest content marketing falsities that many people still believe.
Jill Brown, owner of marketing company Duchess and former marketer for The Walt Disney Company, weighed in on the topic, as did Joe Pawlikowski, the marketing team leader for PushFire, a digital marketing agency. He shared some of the content lies he sees on a regular basis in their New York City office. With Jill and Joe’s help, we put together a list of content marketing lies that exist today.
Writing valuable content is the key to success
You’re probably thinking, ‘Wait, that’s a lie?’ Brown says valuable content is actually the bare minimum that your company should offer.
“Everyone says content has to be valuable to be effective in today’s crowded marketplace. That’s not true,” she says. “Value alone is not enough. Your content has to be valuable and sharable.”
When you tweet out a blog post or a new video, your audience should click the share button instantly. Every article might not reach viral status, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t create content with that goal in mind.
Of course, there isn’t a magic answer to the question, ‘What’s the most shareable kind of content?’ You have to create content that fits your business and audience. The trick is to present it in a way that your audience wants to share.
Writing high quality content is our content strategy
Research from the Content Marketing Institute shows that 93 percent of business-to-business marketers are using content marketing, yet only 44 percent of those marketers have an actual documented content strategy in place.
A content strategy is more than a commitment to high quality content, it’s about setting goals, understanding your core audience, creating and marketing content, establishing a workflow and monitoring metrics to measure success.
A content strategy is similar to a business plan; it’s a detailed document that serves as a roadmap for success. You can’t measure success if you don’t have plan in place first, right? When you think of it that way, it doesn’t make sense to operate without a strategy in hand.
Brown says there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy that every business can deploy, which could explain why some businesses are a little vague on strategy specifics. However, if you’re in need of a little help getting a strategy started, check out this template from Moz that you can customize for your business.
Content marketing means writing a blog
A blog is one component of content marketing, but it’s not the only part. A lot of people assume that content marketing equals blogging. That’s a lie because it’s not looking at the big picture.
Pawlikowski says a lot of their new clients say that content marketing isn’t working for them, but when the company looks into their content offerings more than 50 percent of those companies don’t offer any content other than a blog.
Brown says she also comes across this content lie.
“There’s more to content marketing than a blog post a week,” Brown says. “Your blog may be the best arm of your content outreach, but more often than not a blog serves as a vehicle to host content.”
In other words, your blog is like a car dealership. A dealership keeps a variety of different cars on the lot and invites people to visit. A blog is similar. You should offer a variety of content on your blog that goes beyond a “Top 10” list. Dealerships don’t have just one kind of car to pick from, right? Neither should your blog. Post videos, white papers, podcasts, case studies, infographics and invite people to that centralized location to check it out.
According to statistics from the Content Marketing Institute, business-to-business marketers are using an average of 13 different content offerings to maximize their marketing efforts. While blogging can be one of your 13, you’ll need to create a diverse content portfolio to find success with content marketing.
Anyone can be a writer
Many small business owners assume that everyone on their staff can write content. It makes sense to put your existing employees to work and share the writing commitment, but the truth is that not everyone can write quality posts.
“Unfortunately this is the biggest lie that most entrepreneurs and business owners tell themselves. They think, ‘It’s only writing, how hard could it be?’ Content writing is about a unique approach that not only tells your brand’s story, but also converts,” Brown says.
“It’s not enough to write some words and throw them up on your social media outlets, blog or website. If you aren’t applying a consistent and well-devised strategy that ties all your content back into brand conversion, you’re wasting your time and alienating potential clients.”
Like any craft, content writing takes special skills. Working with trained and experienced content creators will yield the best results, Brown says.
Content marketing success is measured by page views
If you’re in content marketing, you probably have a love-hate relationship with statistics. On the one hand, certain metrics can tell you how well your content strategy is working. On the other hand, figuring out which metrics are the most important to your particular business can be tough. In fact, a HubSpot study shows 45 percent of marketers say measuring their return on investment is one of their biggest challenges.
Pawlikowski says a lot of marketers rely heavily on the number of page views to measure success, which is just one statistic of many that marketers should monitor.
“We all want to get eyeballs on our content, but eyeballs alone don’t tell the whole story,” Pawlikowski says. “They need to measure in a more targeted way, so they know if they’re reaching the right eyeballs.”
So, which metrics should you watch? A variety. Yes, consumption metrics like page views should be checked, but don’t stop there. Convince and Convert suggests monitoring your sharing metrics, which are stats like retweets and Likes, to see how engaged your customers are with your content. Track your lead generation metrics as well to see how many potential customers are coming your way via content. Just remember, one number doesn’t say it all. You have to look at several different metrics, which are probably in several different places, to really measure how well your content is faring.
Of course, as content marketing continues to grow, more lies will surface. The only way to spot these lies is to stay educated and focused on your work. Continue learning about content marketing by taking classes and talking with other professionals. Watch your metrics to stay on top of what your audience wants and know when to make a change when trends shift.
If you can think of another well-believed content marketing lie, please feel free to share it in the comment section below. As always, we welcome your thoughts.